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Nov. 11, 2011

Anti-bullying programs likely ineffective, says Cornell psychologist

Ritch Savin-Williams, professor of developmental psychology and director of Cornell University’s Sex & Gender Lab, comments on the efforts of schools to implement anti-bullying initiatives. Nov. 14 through 18 has been declared Anti-Bullying Week 2011 by the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

Savin-Williams says:

“Schools have an inherent obligation to be a safe place for children and adolescents, and yet for some youth, schools are sources of implicit, if not quite blatant and dangerous liaisons every single day.

“To correct this, thousands of schools have instituted anti-bullying programs, and yet the effectiveness of most programs are untested and are not likely to be successful given our limited knowledge about bullying.

“In addition, can we realistically expect school-based anti-bullying programs to succeed when American culture admires a bully and bullying behavior, when parents advise their child to be assertive to get ahead, and when youth have greater motivation for testing how far they can go in bullying others than with learning how to be nice to each other?

“With the limited research that’s been conducted, we don’t know why youth bully, what causes them to bully or if we can stop them from bullying.”

In an interview last fall, Savin-Williams mulled over one possible explanation for bullying:

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What Do Psychopaths Talk About?

Cornell communications professor Jeff Hancock and a colleague interviewed prisoners who were convicted of murder. Roughly half had been diagnosed as psychopathic--and as the researchers found, they repeatedly gave themselves away simply by talking.

Click here to see the 53-minute talk in its entirety:

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Contact Information
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Office: 607.255.6074, Claudia Wheatley (Director): 607.255.9451, Blaine Friedlander, (Assistant Director): 607.254.8093
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This is the page for the Press Relations Office at Cornell University, an international research university and member of America's Ivy League. Our job is to make it easy for journalists to find out about the research conducted at Cornell and connect to Cornell experts. From agriculture to astronomy, from anthropology to zoonotic diseases, from cultural changes to climate change, we can track down an authority and even put her or him in front of a TV camera or radio microphone--all on deadline.